Last year, a commercial service contract trade association was launched at the Nashville conference. This year, two half-day programs have been added to the main conference to delve into topics related to how commercial service contracts are priced, configured, and sold to businesses.
As the ninth annual edition of the Extended Warranty & Service Contract Innovations conference prepares to convene in Nashville next week, industry professionals are in for a treat. Following a day-and-a-half of regular programming about the consumer end of the industry, show producers have for the first time scheduled a day-long add-on forum about the business-to-business service contract marketplace.
Negotiating the Sales Process
To close out the proceedings on Wednesday, Ashok Kartham, the CEO of Mize Inc., will be speaking with Rob Christian, the president of OnPoint Warranty Solutions LLC, about how to streamline the quote-to-renewal process.
Kartham said close to two-thirds of the Mize customer base are on the business-to-business side of the service contract industry, such as Trimble Navigation, Takeuchi Manufacturing, and Blue Bird Corp., makers of the ubiquitous yellow school buses. OnPoint, meanwhile, is using the Mize platform to administer warranty and service contracts on both the B2B and consumer sides. “So we see this as a very important segment for us,” he said.
Kartham said his presentation will focus on the sales process, which is much different on the B2B side of the business. With consumer service contracts, one size fits all, and there is usually no negotiation of the price or terms. It's simply a yes or no question, and perhaps a selection of how many years of coverage to purchase. But on the B2B side, there is more negotiation and more configuration involved. There may be several machines that need to be covered, and the terms and conditions will need to be changed.
“It involves more elements,” he said. “It’s not just about repair. It could involve maintenance. It could involve SLA terms — the response times that customers are expecting. And because there may be multiple products involved, you may need to negotiate volume discounts.”
Kartham noted that while the claims processing and contract administration procedures may be more uniform, the sales process will always need some customization. "They need to support their channel partners with the right programs for configuring, pricing, and coding," he said. "So that's what we want to focus on: How do we enable these B2B companies on the sales side of the process, rather than the administration side."
In addition, Kartham noted that contract renewals are a huge part of the B2B side of the industry. "As long as they own the product, businesses want somebody else to make sure that product is working for them," he said. "So we want to continue to work with these companies to see how they can improve their [renewal sales] metrics, which will result in more revenues."